Friday 12 December 2008

“But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.” (John Keats)

My desk, on my return from the States, was not a happy sight. Unfortunately there is no publishing fairy who clears the bumf off your desk in your absence. On the contrary, bills, invoices, letters and submissions seem to pile up faster than ever the minute you walk out of your office.

Somehow or other, I managed to plod through the day – a long, tedious day besieged with computer glitches and annoying interruptions. As a reward, in the evening, Elisabetta and I joined some of our Spanish literati friends for a lovely evening at Tapas Brindisa in South Kensington. If you don’t know this place, I highly recommend it for its atmosphere and the quality of its food.

The mood among British publishers is certainly as black as across the Atlantic. There were rumours of cuts, closures and redundancies, and the feeling that a Big Freeze is going to sweep over the publishing world early next year. Luckily enough, there were enough literature enthusiasts there (and enough Tempranillo wine) to chase the shadows away: Bill Swainson of Bloomsbury, Carole Welch of Sceptre, Kirsty Dunseath of Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and Christopher Maclehose, who was accompanied by Mishka, the mostle gentle and well-behaved dog that ever barked in a public place.

Martin Schifino was there too. After being in touch with him by email and having heard of him so many times, it was a pleasure to meet him in the flesh. Unfortunately, he has already planned his getaway from gloomy London to sunny Barcelona via Argentina next month. I think we will all miss his passion and enthusiasm, but greater challenges beckon to him, so best of luck to him!


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